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"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

Dangerous neighborhood

FOIA Request On Effectiveness Of License Plate Readers Greeted With A Blank Stare By Virginia Police Department

from the I'm-not-familiar-with-the-sort-of-thing-you're-asking-for dept
Law enforcement agencies are generally pretty happy with their automatic license plate readers. It allows them to harvest millions of plate/location records without having to exit their vehicles, much less slow them down. It also allows them to spring from their cruisers with guns out and force non-car thieves into submissive positions while they perform the sort of due diligence that should have been completed long before the cops/guns exited their respective holders.
What they don't seem to like is anyone asking questions about the massive databases they're compiling or whether they've bothered to institute any minimization/privacy policies. When questioned, they usually talk about what a great tool it is for crime-fighting, even if said tool contains millions of useless photos entirely unrelated to criminal activity. Some even claim that every single photo in the database is integral to ongoing investigations and therefore cannot be subjected to minimization procedures, much less the pesky FOIA requests of surveilled citizens.
And sometimes, these agencies are so sure they like the tech that they can't even be bothered to determine whether it's actually doing anything to assist in the business of law enforcement. Stephen Gutowski at the Capitol City Project recently asked the Fairfax County, VA police about the effectiveness of its license plate photo database and got this 'FILE NOT FOUND' statement in response.
This letter is in response to your FOIA request in which you requested the number of ALPR records Fairfax County currently has on file. This number is constantly fluctuating, but as of 05/20/2014 at 1003 hours there were 2,731,429 reads in the system.
You further requested any available metric the county uses to determine the system's effectiveness. It was found that the Fairfax County Police Department does not possess any such responsive materials based on the information you requested.
The assumption here is that the system works. The Fairfax County PD occasionally posts arrests linked to ALPR database hits and… well, beyond that, the PD draws a blank. Presumably a handful of arrests justifies a multi-million image-and-location photo database. But this lack of self-assessment shouldn't be acceptable, not for an agency that has abused its technology in the past.
It came to light late last year that the Fairfax PD trolled political rallies to grab more plate data, racking up nearly 70,000 photos in five days. This abuse prompted a local lawmaker to push legislation aimed at severely limiting, if not completely eradicating, ALPR readers in his district. Not a bad idea, as far it goes.
Virginia law enforcement agencies aren't going to be happy with this move and they'll be able to mobilize a pretty powerful opposition. But these are the same entities that tried to bury info on plate readers back in 2009, simply because they felt the public might try to get the system shut down if they knew what was going on. But the lack of controls or any gauge of the system's effectiveness shouldn't be allowed to escape unnoticed, because the failure to monitor error rates and hits can result in catastrophic consequences for citizens whose plates trigger false hits -- something this system does at twice the rate of recoveries.
The license plate readers demonstrated a high error rate. Four ALPR vehicles used in Fairfax County over the course of five nights in February 2009 scanned 69,281 vehicles. The camera database produced twelve bogus hits and recovered four stolen vehicles, for a recovery rate of 0.6 percent and an error rate of 1.7 percent.
The technology can be used responsibly, but law enforcement agencies with tough minimization policies are almost nonexistent. And as we've seen twice in the last month alone, officers relying on faulty data aren't making an effort to verify database hits before attempting to effect arrests. Someone's going to be hurt or killed because of bad data, and hardly anyone in law enforcement seems to be concerned. If they did, strict policies on verification and disposal of non-hit data would be the rule, rather than the exception.

Off-duty cop levels landmark liquor store sign

Joe Cooney

CHERRY HILL – An off-duty Camden County policeman was allegedly driving while intoxicated when he took out a landmark sign outside a liquor store.
William Grasso, 21, knocked down the sign outside Benash Liquor Store shortly before 2 a.m. Friday, according to Cherry Hill police.
Grasso was driving east on Route 38 when his pickup truck hit the curb of the grass median between 38 and the south side of Church Road. He hit two road signs before crashing into the liquor store sign, according to a police report. An alleged drunk driver early Friday morning took out the landmark Benash Liquor Store sign at Route 38 and Church Road.(Photo: Joe Cooney/Courier-Post)
The 67-year-old Benash sign, originally atop the store, was moved to street level in the early 1970s. "We'll see if we can maybe salvage one side of it, but I doubt it," said co-owner Bill Kohler.
Grasso was treated at the scene for head trauma and bleeding, then was evaluated at Kennedy University Hospital in Cherry Hill. The Hammonton man was held on suspicion of DWI.
He "has been taken off the street and relieved of police powers as the facts of this incident are ascertained," said county police spokesman Mike Daniels.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

by Phillip Smith

Last week may have been slow on the police corruption front, but we make up for it this week. A Washington SWAT team member goes bad, an NYPD officer pays for going bad, a former Colorado sheriff also pays a price, an Arkansas cop gets nailed for protecting what he thought were dope loads, and, of course, more jail and prison guards get in trouble. Let's get to it:

In Seattle, a King County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Thursday for stealing and reselling ammunition from his SWAT team, peddling dope, and pimping out his wife. Darrion Keith Holiwell, 49, went down amidst a broader investigation into corruption among King County deputies, and the department says more arrests could follow. Holiwell may have sold as much as $45,000 worth of brass bullet casings, which he allegedly used to buy expensive guns for himself and other SWAT team members. He came under investigation after another deputy  told the department he may have been physically abusing his estranged wife, and she told investigators he suggested she work as a prostitute and helped her post online ads. He is also charged with selling testosterone to a civilian, and the department says he was likely selling it to other members of the department. Police also found prescription drugs, steroids, and ecstasy when they searched his home. He's in jail under $150,000 bond and awaiting a court hearing next week.
In Ada, Oklahoma, a Pontotoc County jail guard was arrested last Thursday after he was caught trying to smuggle contraband, including marijuana, tobacco, and rolling papers into the county jail. Guard Devin Adams has pleaded not guilty and is out on $50,000 bond.
In Little Rock, Arkansas, a former Little Rock police officer was convicted last Wednesday of charges related to escorting a van he thought was filled with marijuana. Randall Robinson was found guilty of lying to investigators, but acquitted of other charges, including conspiracy to distribute marijuana and attempting to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute. He went down in an FBI sting. No word yet on his sentencing.
In New York City, an NYPD officer was convicted last Thursday of committing a series of violent drug and money rip-offs with a gang of no-gooders. Jose Tejada, 46, a 17-year veteran of the force, was convicted of armed robbery and drug trafficking for participating in three robberies of drug dealers in the Bronx in 2006 and 2007 in which the robbers scored thousands of dollars in cash and cocaine. Tejada was in uniform for at least one of the robberies and used it to gain access to a home where he thought drug dealers were, but which actually belonging to an innocent family. He's looking at up to life in prison.
In Albany, Georgia, a former Pelham jail guard was sentenced last Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for taking bribes from inmates to smuggle contraband, including marijuana, into the Mize Street Detention Facility. Christopher Cox, 35, is the second jail guard there to be sentenced for contraband smuggling in two weeks. He copped to one count of conspiracy to smuggle contraband into a detention facility in exchange for bribes.
In Centennial, Colorado, the former Arapahoe County sheriff was sentenced last Thursday to 15 months in prison for repeatedly violation his probation after he was convicted of swapping meth for sex with young men. Patrick Sullivan, 71, had been sentenced to two years, but jail time had been in abeyance while he was on probation. He repeatedly tested positive for meth while on probation. Sullivan was the National Sheriff's Association "sheriff of the year" in 2001. He retired the following year, and then went over to the dark side.

30 days jail-time for Chicopee police officer Genest for 2013 Belchertown drunk driving crash related charges


NORTHAMPTON — A veteran Chicopee police officer — described by his chief as a “good street cop” — will serve 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to charges resulting from an accident in 2013 that injured a then 19-year-old Belchertown woman.
Paul Genest, 41, of Chicopee, pleaded guilty in Hampshire Superior Court Tuesday before Judge Bertha Josephson to charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
Genest was indicted on two counts of operating under the influence with serious bodily injury, but those charges were reduced as part of a plea arrangement between First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne and Genest’s attorney, Jeremy Powers of Springfield.
Genest was sentenced to 2½ years in jail on the operating under the influence charge and two years on the negligent operation charge. Thirty days of that sentence will be served in the Hampshire Jail and House of Correction, and the balance will be suspended for five years during which Genest will be on probation.
While on probation, Genest must avoid alcohol and submit to random screenings, attend any counseling that is requested by the Probation Department, have alcohol-detection devices installed at his home and in his personal vehicle, not drive any vehicle without such a device and pay $10,000 in restitution, among other conditions.
Genest’s sentence will be stayed for one week to allow him to make child care arrangements.
Genest is currently on unpaid administrative leave from the Chicopee Police Department, according to Chief Thomas Charette.
Charette said he suspected that Genest’s jail sentence for a first-offense operating under the influence resulting from his being a police officer. Charette pointed out that many other first offenders do not serve any jail time.
However, in court Tuesday, Josephson said some may actually view the sentence as lenient. Nevertheless, Josephson added that she does not view it as showing preferential treatment toward Genest. Josephson said she could see the same sentence being recommended under similar circumstances involving a civilian.
Genest admitted that on July 30, 2013, he was traveling south on Route 21 in Belchertown when he veered into the oncoming lane and collided with a car driven by Emma Norden. She had to be extricated from her car and suffered a fractured leg and several deep cuts, some of which have left scars, Gagne said.
Gagne said Genest’s blood alcohol concentration was .24, three times the legal limit of .08 to drive a vehicle in Massachusetts.
Gagne said the plea deal was the result of “extensive discussion and negotiation,” and the “forgiveness and understanding” of Norden’s parents. They were present at the hearing, but did not address the court. “They are just thankful they still have their daughter,” Gagne said.
Norden was not present in court Tuesday.
Gagne said Genest wrote a “heartfelt” letter to the family that was not read aloud in court but was included in the Probation Department’s file.
A copy of the letter was not available because it is not included in the public court file, according to Hampshire Superior Court Clerk Harry Jekanowski.
Josephson acknowledged the safety of a police officer serving time in jail may be at risk and he may have to be sequestered away from the majority of inmates. “Uncomfortable is a gentle way of putting it, Josephson said.
Gagne said he hopes the 30 days will be an “indelible reminder” of Genest’s lapse in judgment before getting behind the wheel.
Charette said, following the crash, Genest used all of his vacation, sick and personal time and, once that was exhausted, he was placed on the unpaid leave.

Charette said a decision will be made later whether Genest, who joined the Chicopee police force in 1997, will be able to return to the department full-time. That decision will ultimately be up to Chicopee Mayor Richard J. Kos, Charette said.

Durham officer suspended without pay for policy violations related to teen's shooting death

DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham police officer who arrested a teenager who shot himself in the head while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car violated policies regarding transporting and handling prisoners, Police Chief Jose Lopez said in a report to Durham’s city manager on Friday.
Lopez said when Officer Samuel Duncan picked up 17-year-old Jesus Huerta on the morning of Nov. 19 on a misdemeanor trespassing charge, he failed to discover the Haskell .45 caliber-semi-automatic handgun in the teen’s possession.
Duncan, who had been with the department for 16 months at the time, frisked Huerta’s pants and jacket pockets and put him in the back of the patrol car, Lopez said, but he did not find a weapon. When they arrived at Durham police headquarters, a short time later, the teen shot himself.
After separate investigations by the State Bureau of Investigation and the police department’s Professional Standards Division, Duncan received a 40-hour suspension without pay and remedial training in transporting and handling prisoners.
Durham’s district attorney announced last month that he would not pursue criminal charges in the case.
Alexander Charns, an attorney for Huerta’s family, said Monday that the family is conducting its own investigation into the teen’s death.
Charns said they believe police should have thoroughly searched Huerta before putting him in the patrol car and that Huerta, who had high levels of drugs in his system, should have been taken to a hospital before police served the warrant for his arrest.
“Our community will judge the appropriateness of the discipline imposed on the officer here, and how the discipline compares to the discipline imposed on other officers,” the family said in a statement. “We will all judge how the DPD moves forward to learn from this tragedy and whether it will take the necessary affirmative steps to prevent future in-custody deaths.”
Lopez’s report to City Manager Thomas Bonfield noted that Duncan several times told Huerta to stop moving around in the back of the police car and that he had intended to perform a more extensive search once they were at the police station.
As a result of Huerta’s case, Lopez said, all sworn officers have been required to complete a two-hour update course on conducting searches, and police officers who train recruits have been told to emphasize proper search techniques.
“We're going to do things in a different way, in a better way, and a lot of it comes from learning from our experiences,” Lopez said Monday afternoon.
Another change – stemming from a second policy violation by Duncan – involves the use of in-car video cameras. They will now turn on automatically within 30 seconds after a vehicle's engine starts running.
Lopez said Duncan did not restart the camera, which turns off if the car is idle for more than 50 minutes. Duncan’s interaction with Huerta was not recorded.
The Durham Police Department will now start providing the city manager a report about any officer-involved shooting within five business days. After Huerta’s death, there were protests in Durham from people wanting to know what happened.
Lopez said he thinks the five-day report will help with community unrest, putting as much information out in public as quickly as possible.
“I think, like anything else in this organization, it's a learning process,” Lopez said. “In the future – not to say we’re going to be perfect – but we’re hopeful not to make the same mistakes.”
The Huerta case was one of three officer-involved shootings in the report to Bonfield.
In the two other cases – the July 27, 2013, death of Jose Adan Cruz Ocampo and the Sept. 17, 2013, death of Derek Deandre Walker – internal investigations found no violations of police department policies or procedures.
Officer R.S. Mbuthia shot Ocampo, 33, after he and other officers responding to a stabbing call told him to drop a kitchen knife he had been holding. Witnesses later said Ocampo was trying to hand the knife to an officer when he was shot four times.
Walker, 26, was fatally shot by Cpl. R.C. Swartz when Walker pointed a gun at officers after an hour-long standoff at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham. Walker was distraught over losing custody of his son, relatives said.

Van Buren Police Officer Suspended For Contacting Underage Girl

 Times Record Staff A patrol officer with the Van Buren Police Department was put on unpaid suspension after he made contact with a 16-year-old girl on Facebook. Cpl. John Cao returns to work today after an internal investigation determined he violated a departmental policy but made no criminal violations, Van Buren Police’s public information officer detective Jonathan Wear confirmed Monday. Parents of the teenage girl, who was stopped for speeding and not given a ticket, filed a complaint with the Police Department after it was learned that Cao contacted her on the social media site. – 


Joel Currier
ST. LOUIS • A Velda City police officer was so enraged that he had been questioned about an arrest that he kicked, punched and used a riot baton to beat two teens and an adult during a 2008 encounter, federal prosecutors said Monday during opening statements in the former officer’s criminal trial.
But Tony Muhlenkamp, one of Stan Stanback’s lawyers, said that Stanback was threatened by a group of people, called for help and then almost single-handedly arrested the three amid a struggle.
The trial, in U.S. District Court here, will come down to the testimony of other officers, those Stanback is accused of beating and bystanders, as well as surveillance videos that captured the first interaction with Stanback and an exchange in a holding room at the station.
The encounter began as Stanback was leaving work just before 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2008.
Julia Gegenheimer, of the Justice Department’s civil rights division in Washington, said Stanback encountered three teenage boys and a man on the parking lot of the Velda City Police Department.
The four were crossing the lot on their way to a friend’s home, and chatted briefly with Stanback.
Stanback got angry when one of the four asked why he had arrested their friend earlier in the day, and the group left, she said.
Stanback called for help, then went inside the station and returned with a riot baton, which is not normally carried by officers and is only issued to officers for crowd control, Gegenheimer said.
Officers from Velda City and elsewhere soon arrived and located the group outside a nearby apartment building.
One teen was handcuffed and the others were either sitting or lying on the ground when Stanback arrived. He hit one seated youth multiple times, swinging the riot baton like a baseball bat, Gegenheimer said. Then he began beating the adult, who was lying on the ground. After a supervisor wrestled it away, Stanback began punching and kicking the man before moving on to a handcuffed teen. He was finally pulled away by other officers, she said.
Prosecutors say that Stanback’s victims were not charged and were released that same night. All went to the hospital for treatment of bruises, scrapes and swelling.
Muhlenkamp said that Stanback would testify, and tell jurors that he was threatened by a large group who refused his commands to back away and submit to arrest, leaving only when sirens from approaching police cars could be heard.
He said that Stanback would also say that he was the first to arrive at the group’s new location and only used force as he had been trained, to force them to comply. After the attack, Stanback was fired. He went on to work for the Beverly Hills Police Department.
He was also arrested and charged by complaint in St. Louis County Circuit Court with three misdemeanor counts of assault, but a paperwork error spiked the trial and too much time had passed to re-file charges.
Stanback was indicted on federal charges involving the use of excessive force in September 2013.

Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett roughed up by cop after his ‘intoxicated’ arrest, new video shows

New video of the arrest of an intoxicated Fox News anchor shows newsman Gregg Jarrett being violently thrown around by a Minnesota airport policeman.

The video, made available to Gawker by the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s police department, shows Jarrett being pushed into a wall like a rag doll in a detention cell by a cop named Mark Dorsey, who then slams the journalist’s head down on to the cell’s bench for added measure.
The news anchor was arrested on May 21 after an airport bartender reported his behaviour after one drink made him seem “intoxicated.”
According to the police report, Dorsey approached Jarrett and found him uncooperative and the officer wrote he “was concerned for the welfare” of the anchor.
Jarrett was then placed in a holding cell until paramedics arrived.
The police report then differs with Gawker’s reporting on what happened next after firefighters arrived. In the report, Dorsey says that Jarrett twice yelled “F–k you” at him and appeared agitated. Dorsey then says he attempted to cuff the newsman and he resisted.
However, Gawker says that the anchor could not be heard using those words at the policeman in the hour-long version of the video and it is not clear if the journalist grabbed the cop’s arm either, as Dorsey writes in his report.

“Jarrett then grabbed my left arm and I broke his grip. I then used an arm bar on his right arm to bring him to the wall,” Dorsey wrote in his report. “Once against the wall, Jarrett continued to struggle and started to spin to break my grip. I then spun with Jarrett and released my grip on his right arm and grabbed his left arm. Using an arm bar on his left arm, I brought Jarrett down to the bench and told Jarrett to stop resisting several times. I got one arm cuffed and told Jarrett to stop resisting and bring his other arm back.”

Cop arrested for provoking kid fights and for fighting a kid

A Philadelphia cop who allegedly pushed her own children to fight other kids – and who, on at least one occasion, jumped in a fight to punch a 14-year-old girl herself ¬ - was arrested today on numerous assault and endangerment charges, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
Ofc. Tamika Gross’ propensity for fighting has twice been detailed by the Daily News, once in 2009 when she got into a street fight with another woman while she was on duty in West Philly and once in 2013, when she allegedly brought her 16-year-old suspended daughter back to Lincoln High School to fight a 14-year-old girl over a boy.
In the latter instance, which prosecutors said was caught on cell phone video, Gross, 35, is accused of jumping into the fight when her daughter started losing and punching her daughter’s rival in her eye.
Tashiana Haggins-Montgomery, the mother of the 14-year-old victim in the Lincoln High case, was overwhelmed with the news of Gross’ arrest today. She said she’s called the District Attorney’s Office every week since the incident happened in October to check up on the case.
“I honestly thought it was going to be slipped under the rug,” she said. “She’s been getting away with it so long it was almost like it was the norm for her."
According to District Attorney spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson, Gross has been charged with 11 counts in three separate cases dating back to 2012. In the first instance, on Jan. 25, 2012, Gross allegedly brought her 18-year-old son to fight a 16-year-old boy, an encounter which led to an all-out street brawl, according to prosecutors.
In the second case, in March of 2012, Gross is accused of bringing her daughter to fight two sisters, Jamerson said. During that incident, Gross was allegedly heard screaming that nobody would get arrested because she was an off-duty police officer.
The final case Gross is being charged with is the Lincoln High School fight involving Haggins-Montgomery's daughter.
In total, Gross is facing two counts of simple assault, four counts of recklessly endangering another person, four counts of corruption of minors and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, Jamerson said. Gross turned herself in to police around 11:30 a.m. today.
"I'm happy that it won't happen to another child, even if she doesn't do jail time at least they're watching her," Haggins-Montgomery said. "My child was not the first, she might not have even been the third, there might have been other kids but their parents may have not taken it this far."
Internal Affairs documents that were uncovered by the Daily News during research for the previous stories showed that Gross has a history of getting into fights that is well documented by the department.
"Police documentation reveals P/O Gross was in fact present on more than one occasion when groups of juveniles gathered for the purpose of provoking fights with each other," one investigator wrote in a 2012 report for Internal Affairs.
Gross appears to finally be facing some action from the police department as well. A spokeswoman for the department's public affairs unit said Gross has been suspended with the intent to dismiss.
When Gross first made the pages of the Daily News in 2009 for brawling with a woman in West Philly while she was on duty, the woman she fought, Lateefah Savage, was charged with assault on a police officer. Savage eventually pleaded guilty to simple assault in the case and received four years probation.
However, the ramifications for Gross were far less severe. She was placed on desk duty and was disciplined by the department, but a spokeswoman refused to release the nature of that discipline.
What is clear is that Gross continued to wear a badge for the next five years and she continued to allegedly promote fighting in her own life and fighting amongst children like she was some kind of Don King pied piper.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruling

A unanimous Supreme Court ruling today gives a victory to privacy advocates by limiting police ability to search cell phones of criminal suspects upon arrest and without a warrant.

In a 9-0 decision, the justices said smartphones and other electronic devices were not in the same category as wallets, briefcases, and vehicles -- all currently subject to limited initial examination by law enforcement. Generally such searches are permitted if there is "probable cause" a crime has been committed, ensuring an officer's safety, or preventing the destruction of evidence.

Criminal suspects in Massachusetts and California were separately convicted, in part, after phone numbers, text messages, photos and addresses obtained from personal electronic devices linked them to drug and gang activity.

The search cases gave the high court a timely opportunity to re-enter the public debate over the limits of Americans' privacy rights, with a focus on the ubiquitous cell phone and its vast storage of information and video.